Country Christmas Songs


Oh, I know what you're thinking...how could the generally sad face of country music ever fit into the partyzone that is the 12 days of Christmas. The truth, of course, is that for many Christmas is not all about mulled wine and hangovers and country music offers an escape from the tinsel choking rattle of another round of 'the Best Christmas In The World, Volume 17'.

Christmas is also a time to take stock so that is probably why the genre that seems to base itself on standing back and thinking about life should have a rich history in Christmas material. So while melodrama and lost love appear to be the pillars on which the genre hangs its Stetson there are times when the odd sleigh bell gets a look in.

What you'll read below is our overview of the major artists from the Country Music world and their contribution to the Christmas soundtrack.


Dolly Parton (and some Kenny Rogers)

And could you ask for a better start than the queen of country Dolly Parton who has written more than her fair share of Christmas songs during her 9-to-5 shift? Dolly's first brush with the season of goodwill came in 1982 as a result of her role in the 'The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas' where she sang 'Hard Candy Christmas' on the soundtrack along with several other of the actresses in the musical. Parton would record her own solo version later that year where it became a Top 10 Country hit.

From this successful introduction to the world of Christmas it wasn't long before Dolly went into festive overdrive with her 1984 album of duets with Kenny Rogers titled 'Once Upon A Christmas'. The album was featured on a TV Christmas special that December and spawned several successful singles including 'A Christmas To Remember' and 'Christmas Without You'. 'Once Upon A Christmas' became one of the best selling Christmas album during the 1980's. And the formula would be repeated by Dolly many times later on in her career.

Dolly appeared alongside Fall Guy Lee Majors in the TV movie 'Smoky Mountain Christmas' in 1986 and it gave her plenty opportunity to get snuggled up beside the fire and belt out lots of festive classics. Sentimental it might be but when it's cold outside movies of this ilk are hard to top. It would be 4 years before Dolly released her next Christmas record and 'Home For Christmas' duly arrived in 1990 and included lots of traditional standards like 'We Three Kings', 'Joy To The World' and 'I'll Be Home For Christmas'.


Johnny Cash

The man in black forever pined for a white one each December so it is hardly surprised that there were so many festive number sprinkled throughout his discography. Not only that but for most of the 1970's Jonny Cash hosted a TV special each Christmas on the US channel CBS. Cash recorded 4 Christmas album's in total, starting out in 1963 with 'The Christmas Spirit' right the way through to 'Johnny Cash Country Christmas' in the early nineties. As well as the obvious cover choices for his deep voice like 'Little Drummer Boy' Cash was also disposed to writing originals for the season. Many, like 'The Christmas Spirit', were spoken word affairs that had Johnny getting dewy eyed and nostalgic for the real meaning of Christmas. It is disarming and altogether uplifting to hear the man who so often hid behind his large frame open up and reveal the little boy inside.


Jim Reeves

Country music legends don't get much bigger than Jim Reeves and before his untimely death, at just 40 years, Gentleman Jim recorded 44 studio albums. One of the highlights of his distinguished career was undoubtedly his 1963 album 'Twelve Songs of Christmas'. The album has past from generation to generation and while many may find it hard to stifle his choices of garments (see the artwork) there was no denying the suitability of his baritone for his take on 'Silver Bells', 'An Old Christmas Card' and opener 'Jingle Bells'. And while he might have specialised in slowing things down for consumption by the open hearth songs like 'The Merry Christmas Polka' and 'Senor Santa Claus' gave you all you needed to grab your nearest relative for a festive shuffle.


Glen Campbell

Glen Campbell is one of the most enduring country music singers the world has ever known. He is probably best known for 'Rhinestone Cowboy' but with a back catalogue of over 70 albums it would be difficult to list his highlights within a couple of paragraphs. We must mention however that he did play on the Beach Boys 'Pet Sounds' album and toured with the group for a couple of years. Over his career Campbell has released 3 Christmas albums, the first of which appeared in the late sixties and the other two much later in his career in the mid to late 1990's. 'That Christmas Feeling' was a 1968 release and featured the single 'Christmas Is For Children' which number 7 in the US charts. The album has a lovely sedate feeling with songs like 'Old Toy Trains' and 'The Christmas Song' offering a genuine winter glow to all comers. 1995's 'Christmas with Glen Campbell' and 1998's 'Home For The Holidays' were both stuffed with covers of traditional carols and holiday standards and while they have their own particular Glen Campbell charm they are not anywhere near the pantheon of great Christmas records.